Topic: Leslie Percival Davison

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Leslie Percival Davison (Service No. 64989) was a First World War soldier with links to Upper Riccarton

Leslie Percival Davison was born 30th December 1896 in Timaru, Canterbury, New Zealand. He was the son of Eliza Jane Thompson and William James Davison who married in New Zealand in 1893. They had five other children; twins Frederick William and Charles Thompson born in 1894 who died as babies, Lillian Isabella Mary born 1895, Ivy Myrtle born 1900 and Freda Violet born 1907.

Leslie's grandfather, William James Davison, was a child of William and Mary Davison who immigrated to New Zealand in 1862 on the ship Mersey with their eldest three children Sarah A, Mary and Margaret. They came from County Armagh in Ireland. William and Mary had another eight children in New Zealand. They settled in the Templeton area to raise their family. William and Mary are both buried in the Templeton Anglican cemetery. 

Leslie (Service No. 64989) enlisted in the army on 26th February 1917 however he did not pass the medical examination and was stood down for four months to have a hernia operation. He was a month over 20 years old when he joined the Army. He had a fair complexion, brown eyes and light brown hair. He stood 5 feet 11 inches tall and weighed 144 pounds so he was a tall, slim man compared to the average New Zealand soldier who was 5 foot 4 inches tall. In his spare time he played cricket for the Riccarton senior team.

At the time Leslie enlisted he was living at his parent’s house at 338 Main South Road. He was working for the New Zealand Government as an insurance surveyor but was also in the 1st Canterbury Regiment Territorials. He was well educated and clever. He attended West Christchurch High School. In 1914 he passed the Matriculation and Solicitors entry exam for the University of New Zealand and came 58th out of about 600 students on the Public Service entrance order of merit list. In 1915 he passed 4 subjects in the Public Service Senior Examination. During the war he was quickly promoted from private (17 September 1917) to lance corporal (31 October 1917) to corporal (19 December 1917). He wrote an alphabetical rhyme published in Te Huia the reinforcement magazine. Leslie Davison was known for his kind and gentle nature.

Leslie left Wellington on the ship Athenic, the day after his birthday, on 31st December 1917 but we don’t know if he got to spend his birthday or Christmas with his family that year. The ship arrived in Glasgow, Scotland on 25th February 1918. He spent two months training at Brocton Camp, in Staffordshire before leaving for France on 28th April 1918. He finally joined his battalion and was posted to C Company., 2nd Battalion. 3rd New Zealand Rifle Brigade. Two months later he was in hospital for 10 days due to sickness. He returned to his unit in the field on 12th August 1918 and two weeks later on 26th August 1918 he died of wounds from battle.

Leslie signed his will on 30th March 1918 and left all his possessions to his father. That came to a total of £156 and 13 shillings.

Leslie was buried in “the Quarry” and the coordinates 57 N.W.W. 14d.25.40 recorded so that he could be found later. He was reinterred at Achiet-Le-Grand Communal Cemetery Extension. Reverend W. Watson of the New Zealand Rifle Brigade was in attendance when he was laid in his final resting place. Soldiers from many small burial sites in the area were moved to the larger cemetery Achiet-le-Grand Communal Cemetery Extension, Pas de Calais, France. Two hundred soldiers are buried in the cemetery that have not been identified and another 1224 soldiers are identified.

Leslie Percival Davison is remembered on his parent’s headstone at St Saviour's Anglican Church Templeton Cemetery and the Roll of Honour Board at the Upper Riccarton Memorial Library.

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Leslie Percival Davison

First Names:Leslie Percival
Last Name:Davison
Place of Birth:Timaru, Canterbury, New Zealand